Thursday, August 28, 2014

Best Fall Trips in the US : 2014

These are some travel ideas in the U.S. that might be just perfect for a fall getaway.

Enchanted Circle Scenic Drive, Taos, New Mexico

From late September through early October, north-central New Mexico’s Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway is a best-of-fall highlight reel. For those beginning and ending the drive in Taos (basically circling the state’s highest point, 13,162-foot Wheeler Peak), the 83-mile loop offers spectacular natural features: golden-hued aspens, thick evergreen forests, and abundant wildlife, including Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep. “An early snow can make the spectacle even more amazing,” says Fritz Davis, a local musician and editor of the Red River Miner. “The fall palette of red, orange, and gold beneath distant snowy peaks and around the high mountain lake is breathtaking.” It’s possible to make the drive in a couple of hours, but Davis recommends taking time to explore side roads. One of his favorites is the Route 578 fork off Main Street (Highway 38) in Red River, where the vibrant aspen leaves take on a butterfly shape each fall. “You’ll see either a single butterfly with wings spread wide or, if you’re romantically inclined, two butterflies kissing,” says Davis.
How to Get Around: Begin in Taos and drive clockwise around the loop. From downtown Taos, head north on NM 64/68 to NM 522. Continue north on NM 522 for about 24 miles to Questa and turn right (east) on NM 38. Continue east and then south on NM 38 about 30 miles to Eagle’s Nest. Here, you’ll rejoin NM 64 to complete the circle back to Taos.
Where to Stay: The recently renovated Palacio de Marquesa (formerly Casa de las Chimeneas) is a romantic, pueblo-style retreat. Surrounded by cottonwood trees in a quiet neighborhood, the 1912 adobe estate is within easy walking distance (about ten minutes) of shops, restaurants, and galleries at Taos Plaza. The inn’s eight guest rooms (two of which are suites) are individually appointed to reflect the spirit of a legendary Taos woman artist such as Georgia O’Keeffe and Millicent Rogers. Each room has a fireplace and courtyard access, some have beamed ceilings and skylights, and all include complimentary breakfast, which can be delivered directly to your door.
Where to Eat: At family-owned Hatcha’s Grill of Angel Fire, order an authentic New Mexican dish such as sopaipillas (fried pastries) stuffed with carne adovada (cubed pork in red chile sauce) or a steak and papitas (fried potato) burrito. Eat like a local by asking for it “smothered with Xmas.” Christmas, or Xmas, is a spicy, red-green New Mexico concoction made by blending mild (red) and hot (green) chile sauces.
What to Buy: Find genuine turquoise and sterling silver pendants, rings, cuff bracelets, earrings, and other pieces designed by Native American and other New Mexico artists at the Jewelry Lady Red River in Frye’s Old Town.
Helpful Tip: Take it slow and stay alert for changing weather conditions and wildlife on or near the road. Before making the drive, check the weather forecast for the entire route and plan accordingly. Curves on the two-lane route can become slick in wet or snowy conditions, and some sections of the road have little or no shoulders.
Fun Fact: One must-see Enchanted Circle detour is the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, located 12 miles northwest of Taos on U.S. 64 (8 miles west of the NM 522 and NM 150 junction). Completed in 1965 and restored in 2012, the steel bridge is the second highest suspension bridge in the U.S., towering 650 feet above the Rio Grande River. For the most dramatic gorge views, park in the lot at the west end of the bridge and walk (staying on the walkways) out to the center.

USA’s Largest Oktoberfest Celebration

Follow the lederhosen-clad locals to Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, the largest festival of its kind in the United States. First staged as a block party in 1976, the free, family-friendly event now attracts more than 500,000 people and celebrates the city’s deep German roots (German immigrants built Cincinnati’s Over-the‐Rhine, or OTR, neighborhood in the 1800s). “Oktoberfest here is like being in 20 beer gardens,” says veteran restaurateur Mick Noll, who’s cooked his German specialties (bratwurst, potato pancakes, Bavarian smoked skinless sausage) at every Oktoberfest Zinzinnati. “Grab a beer, share a table with someone you’ve never met, and get into the spirit. There’s nothing like it outside of Munich.” Beyond the beer (the equivalent of some 18,000 12-packs are consumed each year), there’s continuous live German music, the “World’s Largest” Chicken Dance, and boisterous competitions, including stein hoisting, beer barrel rolling, and the Running of the Wieners.
How to Get Around: Cincinnati is located in southwestern Ohio at the junction of I-75, I-74, and I-71, about a hundred miles northwest of Louisville, Kentucky. The greater Cincinnati area extends south across the Ohio River to northern Kentucky, where the airport is located. Take the TANK (Transportation Authority of Northern Kentucky) public bus (operates 5 a.m. to midnight) from the airport to downtown, where the festival is staged on six blocks of Fifth Street, from Vine Street to Sentinel.
Where to Stay: Located in the 983-building OTR National Historic District, the city’s original German enclave, the Symphony Hotel is a restored 1871 mansion with nine rooms, each named for different composers. The third-floor Beethoven and Shubert rooms have the only shared bath. An on-site gourmet restaurant is open Friday and Saturday evenings (five-course prix-fixe menu) and Sundays for brunch. Reservations suggested. The hotel is next door to the 1878 Music Hall, home of the Cincinnati Symphony (and included on the National Trust for Historic Preservation's June 2014 list of 11 most endangered historic places).
Where to Eat: Meet Mick Noll at his Covington Haus Oktoberfest booth to try a Cincinnati German-American specialty: goetta (“get-uh”). The breakfast sausage is made from a slow-cooked blend of pork, beef, onions, spices, and steel-cut oats. Noll’s all-meat version is goetta balls, which he describes as “meatball in shape but like nothing you’ve ever tasted.” While not traditionally German, another Cincinnati culinary classic is a beanless, sauce-like ground beef chili (try Price Hill Chili in Cincinnati and Dixie Chili & Deli in northern Kentucky). Variations exist, but the traditional chili parlor menu has six options: bowl (plain), two-way (plain over spaghetti), three-way (two-way plus cheese), four-way (three-way plus onion), four-way beans (three-way plus beans), and five-way (four-way beans plus onion).
What to Buy: During festival weekend, visit historic Findlay Market in OTR (about a half-mile walk from the Symphony Hotel). Opened in 1855, Findlay is Ohio’s oldest surviving city market house and the longest continuously operating public market in Cincinnati. Visit more than 80 permanent and weekend vendors, plus the additional open market and farm shed booths, to shop for teas, herbs, and spices; fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, and meats; imported and domestic cheeses and wines; and local baked goods. Through mid-October, there’s also an on-site beer garden hosted by the local Christian Moerlein Brewing Companyand the OTR Brewery District.
Helpful Tip: Download the free Oktoberfest Zinzinnati app (available in September on iTunes or GooglePlay), the interactive festival guide for iPhone or Android.
Fun Fact: The beer may get top billing, but Oktoberfest Zinzinnati is an all-out German food fest. According to the Cincinnati Regional USA Chamber survey of food vendors, the hungry herren and frauen at a recent Oktoberfest Zinzinnati consumed 80,500 bratwurst, 64,000 sauerkraut balls, and 1,875 pounds of German potato salad alone.

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